Google facial recognition is the next frontier in the company’s assault on privacy, critics say. But Google insists facial recognition technology will be used carefully, if at all. Get the details here, and see photos and video below.

facial recognition

Okay, let’s not freak out or anything. They’re not hijacking your webcam to capture identifiable images of you just yet. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be any plans to use the technology on the actual computer user.

Rather Google could be plotting to use the new tech much the same way they do in Picasa, which is already capable of scanning stored images to correlate those with similar faces.

But the multi-colored elephant in the room is of course privacy issues—something the Internet giant has been roundly criticized for, and even sued. They have long been scrutinized over their handling of logged browser data, their ‘Street View’ mapping, and of course the new SN service ‘Buzz.’

Observers point out that now is not the time for the company to dabble in yet another dubious project. The Daily Telegraph notes one potential concern here:

“…privacy campaigners argue that it could enable people to track strangers and make them vulnerable to fraud.“

The company’s perceived carelessness with its other recent innovations has caused alarm as well. Not to worry, says chief executive Eric Schmidt:

“Facial recognition is a good example . . . anything we did in that area would be highly, highly planned, discussed and reviewed. When you go through these things, you review your management procedures.”

It’s worth noting that they held back on introducing the technology in the new Google Goggles app, which by the way, is pretty effing cool. But of course, it’s competition that may drive them to move forward with a premature roll out, as the Israeli company behind ‘’ might be the first to dangle the carrot in front of consumers.

What are your thoughts on the Google facial recognition technology? Could it be done responsibly, or will it be yet another fly in the ointment? I’ve included a related video below.